Micro-Influencers: How Regular Joes are Driving Influencer Marketing ROI

Psssst. Yes, you. Want to hear a secret that will change your thinking on influencer marketing? Come closer. Closer. Okay, that’s good. Here goes: You DON’T have to hire an online superstar to get amazing ROI from your influencer marketing efforts!

It’s true. In fact, one of the most often overlooked groups of digital influencers are simply Regular Joes: people who are “hyper-local,” tend to be highly trusted experts in their field, are very vocal online, and who have communities that—while smaller and extremely niche—are highly valuable.

How Regular Joes Became Highly Sought After Micro-Influencers

I’m Canadian. And while we’re nice and polite up here in the Great White North, we do have a rather strange habit of “eating our young.” We like to call it “Tall Poppy Syndrome”—in other words, get too big for your britches, and the scythes come out, ready to chop you down.

That same thing tends to happen a fair bit in marketing: A new trend takes hold, or a new way of doing business, and it’s all good, better, best…until people start to grumble with predictions that it’s over. The sky is falling. And this is a little of what’s happening in influencer marketing these days. Some thought leaders in the space are concerned that as “influencer marketing” becomes more about superstar-plus-brand alliances, and as consumers become savvier about the ins and outs of digital marketing, one of the key tenets of influencer marketing is starting to erode: trust.

And while there isn’t a hard and fast rule as to what level of influence constitutes a “micro-influencer”—some industry leaders say 100,000 followers is micro (I don’t agree; I still feel with 100,000 plus followers engagement becomes robotic and less human), while others peg the mark closer to ten thousand and under (a more manageable number, in my opinion), the conceit remains the same: the fewer the followers, the more real the engagement is, and the more valuable that audience becomes to a brand.

Just Do It…The Math, That Is

As explained succinctly in a recent digiday.com article, it really boils down to simple math: “If a sportswear company, for example, collaborates with a social celebrity with 2 million followers, it can reach a big pool of audience, but 90 percent of them may not be sports fans. It would make more sense to activate 100 self-proclaimed athletes whose followers are actually interested in athletics.”

Plus, we know that the use of ad blockers  is on the rise. In fact, more than 200 million plus web surfers are already using ad-blocking software. Couple that with consumers who, more and more, put the majority of their trust in peer-to-peer recommendations over brand advertising, and the fact that those same consumers are accessing social media more than ever when searching for that peer-level word-of mouth marketing advice, and you can see why Regular Joes are beginning to take a toe-hold in the influencer marketing game.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Answer

As with most things in life, there isn’t one way of doing things that will fit every brand in every industry. But, done creatively, I don’t think there’s a brand out there that can’t benefit from exploring the other side of influence marketing. Do the legwork, do some research, know your fan base/audience demographics, and test out a small campaign with a hyper-local influencer or two. Also, don’t forget how fast time is flying these days. As hard as it is to believe, the millennials are fast becoming settled down, middle-aged folks with 2.4 kids! Generation Z, who we’ve written about before , are nipping at their heels as the buyers to broker with. And when you have a sizeable generation of buyers on the cusp of adulthood, a group who have grown up with technology in hand—who are sick of the slick, airbrushed, artificial world of media and advertising—Regular Joes might be just what brands need.


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